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Celebrating Mares - Diva

13344694_10205287312456904_789704271990993908_nZoe shares with us just how special her mare, Diva, is..

“I got Diva a 9 year old (at the time) Thoroughbred Mare in 2011 after just selling my 13.2hh pony who I had had for 7 years, even though I have been riding before I could walk it was certainly a big step. She could barely canter, let alone jump and her flat work wasn’t that brilliant. After going to see Diva many times and having lessons on her with my trainer we decided that she would be the right one – I really wanted a project however I didn’t realise what I was quite letting myself in for. From the moment we got home I had many other horse owners on the yard practically nearly bullying me, I heard things such as “You can’t look after a ex-racehorse”, “She is too much for you”, “You don’t feed her enough”.. it went on and on – even down to people checking her buckets in the field and smelling to see if I had given her the correct hay!

I had a small support group my mum being a massive part of that, so I wasn’t completely on my own and I gained knowledge from these people who helped me in every possible way. Diva was undoubtedly a hard mare to work with (living up to her name entirely)! But I wasn’t ready to give up, Diva had had many homes only being in her previous one for four months and I didn’t feel it was fair for her to get moved pillar to post.

I made the decision to move yards as it was getting much much worse staying where I was with me only going up to see her at 8 o’clock at night so no one was around, it was the best decision I ever made, Diva settled immediately and we gained a massive partnership. For the past four years we have done more than I could have imagined together, we starting doing dressage tests and getting placed at most outings, I taught her to jump properly where we competed in showjumping and cross country competitions, We even did some showing where she came first in “best condition” (this was after people telling me I couldn’t look after her – even the judge thought they were wrong!), we have also been placed in a couple of one day events which was the route I really wanted to go with her.

12802882_10204750762323486_370045448674752227_nAt the start of 2015 she started to mature massively, don’t get me wrong we still had our downs and she has and will always be a handful but she had definitely started to settle down and enjoy her job and really want to achieve. We started progressing with her flat  work a lot more and also started to jump 1metre10, something I never thought we would arrive at. This horse was always wanting to try as well as being a perfectionist at the same time.

Unfortunately at the end of last year she fell down a concrete ramp and fractured her stifle. After an operation and nearly 6 months of box rest, she is allowed to be ridden again, we are still having problems and we have a huge way to go but she has handled it all so well. Multiple trips back and forth to the vet and 6 months in a box spent on her own I couldn’t have wished more a more patient or well behaved horse.

But the biggest part out of anything I have mentioned is that also this year I lost my mum, and I will be forever thankful to this horse for being my absolute safe haven, no matter what kind of day I have had she will always be waiting in the field. Her complete attitude to life has changed (they say they know) and she has become the most affectionate I could have ever imagined her being, showing me just how much she is there for me now I need her for something. I don’t know what I would have done without her as she has given be a reason to continue getting up in the morning.

I honestly hand on heart wish this was a different story to what it is, but I cant thank this special mare enough and I wouldn’t change her for the world.”

What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking of owning a mare/bought a new mare?

13524416_10205448376643408_1724910231000300754_n“The advice I would give to someone who is thinking of owning or buying a mare is do not give up! Mares are not easy; they are clever (a bit more than you are most of the time) and they like things to happen in their way and their time – you must be patient. You need to convince them that whatever they are doing is either good for them or they will enjoy it, this happens when you start to gain their respect. They will always be one step ahead of you..always! try to listen to them and determine what it is they would like to do or what they would settle for – most of the time it is about compromise, I have found that if you compromise with them they will be a lot more willing to do other things for you in the future – and it will surprise you at first.

Treat your mare how you would wish to be treated and equally put in the work bonding with them from the very word go, be forgiving when she is having a rough day and you will gain a friend for life. “